GRAND RIVERS, Ky. (Oct. 9, 2019) – Crews are submerging and installing sections of a bio acoustic fish fence on the downstream side of Barkley Lock this week as part of an experiment to deter the passage of Asian carp with a wall of bubbles, sound and light.
David Lambert, project manager with Fish Guidance Systems, the contractor installing the BAFF system, said divers are working to remove silt from the riverbed and his team is then lowering the sections into a trench in bedrock on the river bottom.
“One of the challenges has been trying to install the system, which is below the lock level elevation. So it’s been designed to be in a large concrete block to provide a certain amount of protection for it,” Lambert explained. “So the job today is lifting those concrete blocks up and lowering them down into position on the riverbed.”
Lambert said the next step is to make sure the electrical lines and air hoses are installed and the system is operating as designed. Once the system is online, the team plans to conduct a sound survey and monitor carp that approach the barrier with a telemetry system as part of the research project.
The design and off-site construction of the BAFF began in August 2019. The project involves multiple agencies and partners, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, U.S. Geological Survey and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Jill Kelley, Nashville District project manager, said the Corps of Engineers had to delay the deployment of the BAFF at Barkley Lock during the months of August and September to accommodate navigation traffic during a required maintenance closure at neighboring Kentucky Lock on the Tennessee River.
“That work is completed and the work to install the bio acoustic fish fence at Barkley Lock resumed. It’s exciting to see the sections that will generate the sound, light and bubbles get installed onto the riverbed near the lock,” Kelley said.
The BAFF is expected to be operational in a few weeks, and a field trial will test the effectiveness of the BAFF system. The project costs an estimated $7 million, which is coming from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee’s Asian Carp Action Plan, and leveraged with support from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service base funding.
The BAFF casts a barrier of bubbles, sound and light to deflect the noise-sensitive Asian carp from entering an area. Fisheries managers on the west coast of the United States use a similar system to guide the movement of trout and salmon.
“We’re using sound and light to provide a signal that the Asian carp don’t like. The signal has been tested on a number of different trials, and we’ve been able to demonstrate that the fish don’t habituate to the signal, so they won’t get used to it. So they will then be repelled by it and move away.” Lambert said. “We’re only a few days away from it operating properly.”
He said the bubble curtain combines the light and sound and projects it from the riverbed to the water surface, which essentially creates the fence and deters the fish. The field trial is the next step to confirm the system’s effectiveness.
Go to http://www.asiancarp.us for up-to-date information on ongoing efforts to prevent Asian carp from becoming established in the Great Lakes and beyond.
For more news and information visit the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.